“My injury, that surgery showed me how easily the game of baseball could be taken away, and it taught me how lucky I am to play,” recalls the Commodores’ junior right handed closer. “It was something to work through, and it taught me to have great pride in my pitching.”
Moore is taking a lot of pride in his pitching so far this season. With nine saves so far this season and a 0.42 ERA in 20 appearances, Moore has led Vanderbilt to a number two ranking in the latest polls. He may be getting the credit for shutting down his opponents late in the game, but Moore says that his entire pitching staff is pitching in.
“As a team we’ve set goals, and as a pitching staff we’ve set goals,” Moore stated. “We’re just trying to do the best we can, and get our team in the best spots.”
The Vanderbilt pitching staff is receiving rave reviews throughout college baseball, and several of them are surrounded by MLB draft buzz. Moore says that the staff – who have collectively racked up quite the injury and surgery list in their relatively short careers – is playing motivated.
“Everyone is rooting for each other. There are so many guys who are playing hard, who have great stories. Corey (Williams), coming off knee surgery, Mark (Lamm) having surgery…and then Kevin Ziomek and TJ Pecararo being great freshmen for us from the start.
“It boils down to having a good core friendship and trust among ourselves,” continues Moore. “We are comfortable with each other, and we’re confident in whomever we put out there.”
Moore and his fellow pitchers have assistant coach Derek Johnson to thank for their strong season. “I think the biggest thing Coach Johnson has done is that he stuck with me. He helped me find my consistency and confidence, even when things were not going well for me. He stayed behind me and supported me, and now we’re seeing the results.”
Confidence is key when pitching in the fan-packed stadiums of the SEC. Moore takes the enthused atmospheres of away stadiums and uses it to his advantage. “(The away atmosphere) something you dream to play in. It’s something you can’t be fearful of. A lot of us like the feel, the noise, of 10,000 cheering against you. I like to use that to my advantage. Even if (the fans) are against you, you can grasp that energy to use. It’s an us against them mentality.”
For all of Moore’s building confidence, it’s not necessarily something he picked up watching the game as a kid. He admits to not watching much baseball – be it college or pro – growing up. Playing at Vanderbilt wasn’t on his radar until the middle of high school.
“I didn’t watch Vanderbilt baseball growing up – I didn’t watch a lot of baseball growing up!” recalls Moore. “I came to the Vanderbilt baseball camp during my sophomore year of high school, and that’s when it was first on my radar. But from then on, it was my focus to play here, because it’s a great school and a great program. Being a local guy, it’s good to have the chance to play nearby.”
As Moore enters the end of the season, he’s also got his eyes on the MLB draft and what teams may vie for his future services. He uses two current – though drastically different – MLB closers as his role models out on the mound. “I would say I look up to Mariano Rivera and Brian Wilson, though they have very different approaches. Mariano is very calm, while Wilson is way energetic. Those are both qualities I want in my pitching.”
Whether projecting calmness or energy on the mound, Moore has his Vanderbilt Commodores in a key position for the end of the season.